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Teenager admits US bomb hoax

AN English teenager was given a six-month suspended prison sentence yesterday for phoning the White House and claiming there was a bomb in New York.

Thomas Hutchinson, 19, said the call was a drunken prank, but it sparked an international terrorism investigation.

The teenager from Sheffield acknowledged phoning the White House switchboard on May 10, 2008, after drinking with friends at a barbecue, and claiming there was a bomb in New York's Madison Square Garden.

Prosecutors said the call was quickly traced and found to be a hoax. But the subsequent investigation involved the United States Secret Service, the FBI, the New York Police Department and the police counterterrorism unit in Britain.

Defense lawyer Geoff Flemming said Hutchinson, 17 at the time, was "a young man of good character" who had got drunk and done something "breathtakingly silly."

Judge Tony Browne told Hutchinson his drunken "moment of madness" had had very serious consequences. "The distress and real upset caused to Americans by such a hoax is hard to imagine," he said.

He also ordered Hutchinson to carry out 250 hours of community service.


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